Major investments in Maryland’s life sciences sector

04/02/2024| Amanda Winters

Major investments in Maryland’s life sciences sector

04/02/2024 | Amanda Winters

Investment in Maryland’s life sciences community is heating up only a few months into 2024. From new market launches to expanded production capabilities to increased office space, the past month has seen a flurry of good news across the industry.

Bert Vogelstein , a Johns Hopkins professor of oncology, has launched a new business named Clasp Therapeutics with help from $150 million in funding. Vogelstein has a history of launching successful cancer-focused companies in Baltimore, including Haystack Oncology and Thrive Earlier Detection. The BBJ reports his previous ventures focused on cancer diagnostics , while Clasp Therapeutics will target cancer treatment. The company will have biomanufacturing operations and office space in Rockville.

BioFactura is growing its presence in Frederick County. The biotech developer recently signed a 12,000 square-foot lease  at Riverside Technology Park, giving it much needed space to create dozens of new jobs over the next few months. BioFactura manufactures generic biological drugs known as biosimilars. These products are highly similar alternatives to the very effective blockbuster drugs that are the major cost drivers for the increase in healthcare costs in the country.

Kite, a global biopharmaceutical company that announced an expansion in Frederick County last year, is positioned to benefit from new manufacturing processes. A representative from parent company Gilead recently shared that patient treatments could quadruple due to U.S. process improvements . With these changes, Kite’s cell therapy cancer treatments could be produced in under two weeks by later this year.

Clinical stage biopharmaceutical business Precigen Inc. is working towards launching a new experimental treatment for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, or small growths in the respiratory tract. According to the Washington Business Journal, the immunotherapy could be FDA approved and with patients by 2025 . Precigen is preparing to expand its workforce and manufacturing capacity as it approaches commercialization.

Commercialization could also be on the horizon for CoapTech, Inc., which just announced the market launch of its magnetic balloon catheter. With its focus on minimally-invasive surgery solutions, CoapTech says the second-generation product helps its system enable ultrasound placement of permanent feeding tubes . The first bedside use of the product occurred at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie.

However, these investments could just be the tip of the iceberg.

As locals wait for updates on Baltimore’s Phase 2 Tech Hubs application , industry leaders and elected officials are discussing possible uses for the funding—from life sciences training to biomanufacturing facilities. When the Greater Baltimore area was named one of first participants in the Economic Development Administration’s Tech Hubs program last year, the region became one step closer to receiving tens of millions of dollars in federal assistance.

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